Watch Nearby Props, They Could Be Here Soon

    After a months-long wait, being bombarded daily by poll fluctuations and learning more about Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s (lack of) qualifications than we could’ve ever wanted (but even I have to admit, she is kind of hot), Americans finally stepped up to the plate on Tuesday and elected Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois president, ending nearly a decade of Republican rule at the White House and launching our country in a vastly new direction — both in the domestic and foreign-affairs arenas.

    Thank whoever it is up there that he won, because our economy — most specifically, our financial sector — is in shambles of epic proportion, Social Security in on the brink of collapse, we continue to lose Americans soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, domestic health-care policy is in desperate need of an overhaul and the rest of the world really doesn’t like us. And while Obama definitely isn’t some sort of magic elixir for every problem we face, his ideas are certainly different from the bushel of crap our current president has been spewing, and pretty much anything is better than what we’re doing now, right?

    But while the country was focusing so hard on the presidential race — learning vocabulary terms like swing state, troopergate, bailout plan and Joe the Plumber — and being reminded just what it is that the Electoral College does, it was the statewide races that slipped largely under the radar, attracting far less attention despite the fact that several of them dealt with issues that have far-reaching implications.

    I’m not talking about the House and Senate races, either, even though so many Democrats prevailed, some even wresting control from once unquestionably reliable Republican strongholds such as North Carolina and Colorado — an incredible transition of power that will definitely bolster Obama’s policy plans. I’m talking about statewide propositions, measures and initiatives, which many times deal with hot-button issues, oftentimes propose ridiculous concepts that are rightfully struck down or upheld by voters and sometimes shock the nation with their outcomes (notable examples being Oregon’s 1994 Ballot Measure 16, which legalized physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, and California’s 1996 Proposition 215, which legalized marijuana use as treatment for certain medical ailments).

    Both of these propositions were groundbreaking and led other states to follow suit; many states have since passed medical marijuana laws, the most recent being Michigan, where voters approved medical cannabis this year. Washington state voters this year also approved an initiative similar to their southern neighbor’s Ballot Measure 16.

    It’s important for voters in all states to pay attention to such propositions because it’s not uncommon for them to cause a shockwave that reverberates through the rest of the country, leading to similar propositions in other states.

    And after some of this year’s ballot measures, voters across the country would be unwise to write off the results without seriously thinking about the consequences of the outcomes and whether they should expect a similar proposition arising in their states sometime in the future.

    Major issues this year included gay marriage, rights of the unborn, suspension of the income tax and affirmative action, all of which produced interesting results that demand us as individuals to critically think about their implications.

    In Colorado, voters rejected a proposal that would have defined a human life at conception, and voters in South Dakota rejected an initiative that would have prohibited abortion in all cases except rape, incest and when the mother’s life was in danger. In California, voters did not approve a proposition that would have required parental notification for minors seeking an abortion. Such results tell us as a nation that abortion rights remain of fundamental concern, with notoriously blue states like California in step with purple states like Colorado and red states like South Dakota.

    But in addition to issues that demonstrate national solidarity, we should note measures such as that of Arkansas’ Initiative 1, which bans gay couples from adopting children, and Massachusetts’ Question 2, which decriminalizes marijuana possession. Both measures passed with comfortable margins, and undoubtedly those issues will spread to other states. (Personally, I think the people of Arkansas are absolutely ridiculous while Massachusetts voters rock.)

    So while you rejoice in Obama’s victory, be careful not to lose sight of other issues snaking their way across America. That way, if they ever appear on your state’s ballot, you’ll be prepared to make an informed decision.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $210
    $500
    Contributed
    Our Goal